Omnivore - What really matters

New York Times readers say it's all about food

The Middle East may be in the throes of revolution. The second Ice Age may have begun in Chicago. It may be the eve of the damn Super Bowl.

But the most e-mailed article at the New York Times today is Mark Bittman's piece entitled "A Food Manifesto for the Future." Bittman is a longtime writer for the Times and author of several books about ecologically responsible, healthy eating. Today's article is his first contribution to the "Opinionator" blog. He starts with this observation:

For decades, Americans believed that we had the world’s healthiest and safest diet. We worried little about this diet’s effect on the environment or on the lives of the animals (or even the workers) it relies upon. Nor did we worry about its ability to endure — that is, its sustainability.

That didn’t mean all was well. And we’ve come to recognize that our diet is unhealthful and unsafe. Many food production workers labor in difficult, even deplorable, conditions, and animals are produced as if they were widgets. It would be hard to devise a more wasteful, damaging, unsustainable system.

His manifesto of suggestions should be required reading. It includes, for example, taxing unhealthy food, ending the outrageous government subsidies of processed food, outlawing the torturous treatment of animals, mandating real truth in labeling and this:

Encourage and subsidize home cooking. (Someday soon, I’ll write about my idea for a new Civilian Cooking Corps.) When people cook their own food, they make better choices. When families eat together, they’re more stable. We should provide food education for children (a new form of home ec, anyone?), cooking classes for anyone who wants them and even cooking assistance for those unable to cook for themselves.

Read it!